The United States' Robby Ginepri returns the ball to Chile's Fernando Gonzalez during
their fourth-round match at the French Open in Paris on Monday, June 2, 2008 (AP).

Clay Surface Stymies U.S. Tennis Pros

June 03, 2008 04:42 PM
by Liz Colville
The last American standing in the French Open, Robby Ginepri, was eliminated in the round-of-16 June 2.

30-Second Summary

Robby Ginepri’s streak at Roland Garros, which ended with his defeat by 24th seed Fernando Gonzales of Chile, helped boost Americans’ overall performance at the tournament after a dismal 0-9 record in 2007, writes ESPN.

This year’s French Open was beset with early exits, including defending champion Justine Henin’s decision to retire from tennis prior to her winningest event.

For the Americans, hope faded when Venus and Serena Williams, whose strengths are hard court and grass, were both defeated in the tournament’s third round—on the same day.

The No. 1 men’s doubles team in the world, Americans Bob and Mike Bryan, were eliminated in the quarterfinals to Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas and Peruvian Luis Horna. The Bryans decided to play through a rain spell, putting them at a disadvantage as they trailed their opponents.

The prevalence of the hard court in professional tennis is thought to be a factor in players’ performances on clay. Clay is the slowest surface for the ball, and rewards agile players who can maneuver quickly rather than simply rely on strong serves and accurate volleys.

Memorable French Open performances have eluded Americans since Andre Agassi’s impressive run there, beginning in 1999. But even the best player in the world, Switzerland’s Roger Federer, has been repeatedly stunned at Roland Garros—by reigning champion and frequent matchup Rafael Nadal of Spain.

Headline Link: ‘Americans officially done in Paris’

Opinions & Analysis: The Agassi legacy and the American upsets

Related Topic: French Open title eludes world’s top player

Reference: Comparing tennis court surfaces; the French Open


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